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Policy on sustainable schools to go before councillors

Press Release   •   Aug 16, 2015 10:00 BST

Councillors are to be asked to approve a draft policy for sustainable schools in Moray.

The document – which will be considered by the council’s children and young people’s services committee next Wednesday – details six criteria against which the sustainability of a school will be measured.

If it is approved, the policy will be the subject of consultation with parent councils, head teachers and trade unions.

It will also be used to carry out a pilot review on the sustainability of schools in the Forres area.

The drafting of the policy follows the rejection by councillors last November of the findings of a sustainable schools review carried out by consultants.

Instead councillors agreed to look at introducing a sustainable schools policy with triggers that could activate a review of a school’s sustainability.

A report to next week’s committee meeting states: “Officers have researched suitable criteria and indicators for sustainable schools and have concluded that, first and foremost, the quality of education offered by a school must be of greatest importance.

“There is also a necessity to ensure schools are financially viable and that school rolls and enrolment trends indicate that schools will continue to be sustainable.”

The other criteria are schools remaining accessible without the need for pupils to travel long distances, the importance of a school’s links with its community and the well-being and development of staff.

The report continues: “The draft policy addresses these criteria and identifies a number of indicators which will assist in identifying which schools are sustainable.

“Where the indicators show that a school may not be sustainable, the draft policy describes a range of options which would need to be considered regarding sustainable educational provision within any area.”

Senior education adviser Paul Watson, who has drafted the policy, explained: “It is designed to provide a transparent basis from which Moray Council can review its school estate to ensure it provides equality of opportunity for children and young people in terms of access to high quality educational provision and facilities.

“The policy also provides the opportunity to ensure that no children are disadvantaged through a poor quality educational experience in a sub-standard learning environment.

“It aims to ensure that all children and young people have equal access to good quality education in fit-for-purpose buildings, are taught in classes which are of suitable size, benefit equally from the availability of suitable resources and are not disadvantaged by travelling excessive distances to and from school.”

The document – entitled Schools for the Future: Policy for Sustainable Schools – runs to 30 pages and councillors are being asked that the criteria and indicators are used to review the whole of the Forres associated schools group, which covers Forres Academy and its feeder primary schools.

The outcome could then be used to inform future decision making on the sustainability policy.

Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 92,500 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.

Headquartered in  Elgin, the administrative capital of Moray.

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